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Tuesday, 28 November 1905

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South ^Australia) - I join with other honorable senators in entering 'my protest against the large sums of money which are put down under generic headings like " Incidental and petty cash expenditure," and "Tem porary assistance," over which Parliament has no control. I always regard that as a serious and ill-advised thing to do. The amount expended .last year by this Department on temporary assistance was nearly £1,400. Such an item is large enough to be sub-divided, so as to enable us to see how the money has been spent. I am not blaming any one in particular. But this practice has crept in, and it is one which I am sure is just as much reprobated by Ministers as by any of us. It is only bv continually calling attention to it, and demanding explanations, that we are likely to produce a reform. Some explanation ought to be given why the expenditure this year is nearly £900 less than the amount spent last year, and why the expenditure last year was .£1,093 more than the sum voted. As Senator Dobson has pointed out, under tlie very next heading, " Electoral office," we have the same kind of thing existing. We know absolutely nothing as to how the money is spent. It is obvious that there can be little or no Ministerial control. I do not see how it is possible. I join very emphatically in reprobating the continuance of this system. Whether we can get all the particulars is another matter, but certainly we are quite justified, it seems to me, in strengthening the hands of Ministers by objecting to the practice, because, after all, it is a leakage. When we have a very large item of expenditure in the schedule we know exactly hew the money is to be spent, and can dea-I with it on a proper footing. But where we have many items grouped together under such headings as these it is simply leakage. It appears to me that, we can always "do better service in the cause cf economy by stopping these little leakages than by voting against larger amounts.

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